b. 08/04/1875 Norway. d. 03/03/1949 Los Angeles, California.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/09/1910 USS North Dakota.
Karl Westa was born in Norway and immigrated to the United States. He departed on board the Danish vessel SS Hellig Olav from the port of Kristiansand and arrived in New York City on September 5, 1905.
Westa joined the United States Navy from New York and by September 8, 1910, was serving as a chief machinist's mate on the USS North Dakota (BB-29). On that day, while the North Dakota was conducting tests using oil as fuel, an explosion occurred, killing three sailors and endangering the ship. In the engine room, pieces of hot coal and coke floated in waist-high hot water, oil was aflame above one of the boilers, and the entire room was filled with smoke, steam, and fumes. Despite these dangers, Westa and five other men of the ship's engineering department entered the engine room to haul the boiler fires and perform other tasks necessary to prevent a boiler explosion. After ensuring the safety of the ship, they then searched for and removed the bodies of the three sailors killed in the initial explosion.
For these actions, Westa and the five other men were awarded the Medal of Honor a month later, on October 4. The others were Chief Machinist's Mate Thomas Stanton, Chief Watertender August Holtz, Chief Watertender Patrick Reid, Machinist's Mate First Class Charles C. Roberts, and Watertender Harry Lipscomb.
Westa left the Navy while still a chief machinist's mate.
On board the U.S.S. North Dakota, for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession during the fire on board that vessel, 8 September 1910.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
Section 11, Grave 83-SH
NO IMAGE AVAILABLE